After a few years of travelling actively, first as a solo traveller and then with others close to me, travel has revealed some incredible caveats about life to me.
Some concern who you should travel with; why free experiences are just as amazing as the paid-for or expensive ones; and even how travel can show you if you are truly compatible long-term with a friend or even a partner.
Here are a few key things travel has taught me as an adult:
Finding Your Travel Tribe is a Must
You would think travelling with anyone can be fun – but this simply isn’t true.
I have travelled with everyone from close friends and family to near-total strangers… and just because you know or care for someone does not make them a good travel ‘fit’ for you.
I have travelled with many friends, especially during my uni days, and when it comes to travelling, not all friends are created equal.
To one friend, travelling or exploring meant going to a coffee shop. That was it. And while I love this too, any mention of more exciting things like a walk around the city or a hike and she was not game.
I remember once going on a review with her (a hosted review, to make it worse) and all she did was complain from start to finish.
Her coffee wasn’t sweet enough, the place wasn’t right, she felt uncomfortable etc, etc.
After that, I rarely travelled anywhere with her again. And if I did, I let her choose the places and things we did just to avoid issues. It made me feel on edge and exhausted more than relieved and invigorated.
Find Your Travel Fits
Then I have had other friends who are ready for anything. Walk about the city? In! Cake and coffee in a cosy cafe? In! Bunking class for a day and spending it at the V&A Waterfront? In!
And importantly, we always shared ideas. One time, she would suggest and plan something, the next it would be my turn.
Those were some of the most fun, spur-of-the-moment adventures I have had in the Mother City and they definitely enhanced our friendship.
This is why it is crucial to find your travel tribe. You don’t need to all love the same things either. One friend might love hikes, while another is into wine farms and unique experiences. Or your family love road trips more than dining out or going on winetastings.
The point is that they are happy to travel with you, share in the adventures and won’t be a debbie downer. That is what matters.
Travel Shows You Compatibility
It’s not just friendships that travel throws into sharp contrast, though.
Sadly, travel really does show you if you are compatible with someone romantically too.
If your partner never wants to do anything than stay home on weekends or go out with a friend, then you can deduce that you, as a travel lover, will be unhappy in the relationship.
Be With Someone Who Loves Being With You
In the past, I have been in a relationship where, for years, I planned everything.
I organised hosted experiences, romantic getaways, dinners and movies for date nights and weekend day trips.
I planned it all; I put in so much effort to make everything special, unique or exciting and I don’t think it was ever noticed or valued.
That would have been fine if the other half was at least truly grateful for it all. But instead, I was made to feel like I plan too much or drag people on trips with me.
To make it more painful and sad, the person who never wanted to travel with me or plan anything for us to do was the same person who planned hikes with a variety of different friends, went camping over holidays and found ways to explore our local region without me on many occasions.
I was often hurt and sad about it. They could have changed for me – I brought it up often enough – but they chose not to.
And for so long, I didn’t click – but travel really does show if you are a match or not.
You can’t think amazing adventures, beautiful places or the fun you do have together will be enough to sustain you… It probably won’t.
Amazing Travel Partner vs Amazing Life Partner
They can be amazing to travel with and you can share the best memories – but if doing anything together becomes a mission or you feel unappreciated, the writing is on the wall.
You need to be with someone who loves being with and doing new things with you. You need someone who will provide ideas on what to do next or at least enjoys participating in the trip planning.
But, above all, you need someone who puts in as much effort as you do into ensuring the relationship and your experiences as a couple are romantic, fun and bonding.
Because you really do need to travel as a couple. It strengthens your relationship; teaches you new things about each other; and reveals whether you can face more serious things in life together.
Otherwise, you may as well travel solo or with a friend instead. (Something I really wish I had just done in hindsight.)
But remember: just because you cannot work with one partner and share interests and excitement with them, does not mean you will never find someone who wants to travel, hike, go out for a quick coffee on a lazy Sunday or surprise you with a special sunset picnic on the beach.
Travel shows us who we don’t with work… But happily, it also shows us the person we are most compatible with as well. 🙂
And that person will join in, share and give just as much back to your travel-loving heart, whether they are a travel fanatic like you or not.
Free Experiences Mean Just as Much as the Paid-for Ones
I have done so many amazing things in and around Cape Town and South Africa. And while some of the more expensive or luxurious ones have been absolutely mind-blowing, like dinner at a fine dining restaurant or a lavish weekend getaway, the free or cheap ones have been just as special.
I have hiked for free (or a minimal entrance fee) and had the best days of my life.
I have seen the city as a student with no money but a pocketful of dreams.
Less is Often More
I have walked on secluded beaches and taken road trips, curling around heart-in-mouth cliff faces and edging the ocean, as the sun sets the sky alight with pink and gold, all for under R50.
I have eaten amazing meals for under R100 per person and gone back to those places time and again. Why? Because for atmosphere, quality and value, they were hard to beat.
So the moral of the story is yes, travel can be costly. And yes, some paid-for experiences are ones you need to splash out for. They pay you back with rich memories and dreamy moments.
But don’t think that free or cheap experiences are any less meaningful… They will blow your mind too – and your bank account will thank you. 🙂
Travel Unites Nations
I have hiked up Table Mountain with a group of Australian tourists, befriended a German lady from Munich who invited me to visit her city someday in return and shared real-life conversations and special chats with waiters, hosts, wine farm owners and fellow travellers.
That is the beauty of travel… It unites people – and nations. It strips away things like social standing, class, race, gender and language barriers and offers you a unique international bond.
I have smiled at people who couldn’t speak a word of English but known they felt the same wonder, joy and fun I did just then.
I have learnt about other countries I haven’t visited yet or bonded over travel goals.
I have discovered more about my country, city and people than I ever would otherwise.
And let me tell you: it all changes you in the most special and powerful way.
Travel unites in a way nothing else can. It is thinking, “Wow, that was amazing…”, locking eyes with a stranger and seeing they feel it too.
Travel Changes You
Travel really does change your life. Whether you explore your town or flit around the globe, it teaches you so much about yourself, others and the world.
These are just a few of the personal things that travel has taught me… What has it shown you?
All views contained within this post are my personal feelings and opinions, based on my own life experiences.
They in no way reflect anyone else’s views, feelings or opinions of others.
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.